Second City Tickets
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Atwood Concert Hall
May 2 2015
McCarter Theatre Center
May 16 2015
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One of the biggest and oldest comedy production enterprises comes out of old town Chicago. It has produced scores of comedy programs both for the television and film audiences. Some of its more memorable productions are Next Comedy Legend, Second City Presents, SCTV and in 1969, it played a crucial part in the creation of a satirical sci-fi movie called, The Monitors. Since its inception, it has expanded itself to all over North America and maintains its presence in main cities like Los Angeles and Toronto. It has provided a platform to all the comedians, directors, award-winning actors, etc. We are talking about the Second City.
Founded in 1959, the Second City Theatre evolved out of a cabaret revue show started by students of the University of Chicago. That cabaret revue show was called ‘Compass Players’. The people at the forefront of this theatre are Paul Sills, Howard Alk, and Bernard Sahlins. Their objective had always been simple; to start a theatre where story and scenes were created based on Viola Spolin’s techniques, teachings and methods and directed by Sills. What Spolin had conceived about her theatre, that set it apart from others was to have a mixture of scripted and semi-improvised scenes with new material developed during unscripted improvised sessions after the second act. This was to have scenes created based on audience suggestions. The theatre is also unique in the sense that it has live improvised music during the performance.
As mentioned above, one of the television shows produced by the Second City is called, SCTV. It was a Canadian television show which was so popular that it ran from 1976 to 1984. It featured comedians like Joe Flaherty, Rick Moranis, Dave Thomas and John Candy. This is the same Candy who went to make iconic comedy films. In addition to Candy, the Second City Theatre has been an academy for Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell, Andrea Martin, Edward Asner, George Wendt, James Belushi, Dave Thomas, Harold Ramis, Martin Short, Catherine O’Hara, Chris Farley, Mike Myers, Bonnie Hunt and Dan Aykroyd. This testifies to the fact that the theatre has been a stepping stone for many present day legendary comedians.
Being a complete institution and not just a production house, the Second City started a training center for the upcoming comedians in mid-1980. The Second City Training Center offers classes and workshops from former and current Second City performers. The training centers are located in Los Angeles, Chicago and Toronto. The Chicago center offers instruction on comedy writing and on the art of improvised comedy. It has over 1,800 students. Almost all the comedians mentioned in the preceding paragraph were students at the training center.
The Second City is perhaps the only comedy enterprise which has not only trained adults for the art of comedy but also children. The founders of the Second City started a progressive school for their kids. This, too, was based on Viola Spolin’s education philosophy based on play therapy. Called the Second City Parents School, it had a unique curriculum, which included theatre games played on daily basis. The school which eventually closed down in mid-1970’s had many locations and most of its alumni pursued careers in the entertainment industry.
A successful phenomenon, there has been at least two movies made on the Second City. Second to None was released in 2001 and The Second City: First Family of Comedy was released in 2006. The later movie, like the former was a documentary albeit in three parts. It was produced by Sharon Bartlett and Dave Thomas, an alumnus of the Second City. It focused on the lives of more famous alumni of the institution like Martin Short, Patrick McKenna, Ryan Stiles, Mike Myers and Tina Fey, in addition to focusing on SCTV and the origins of the Second City in Chicago.
The enterprise which has won numerous awards like several Equity Joseph Jefferson Awards,Canadian Comedy Awards, amongst others, is an institution in itself. A theatre founded on the principles of visionary Viola Spolin, attending its comedy productions are a treat in themselves. So do not miss out on this unique opportunity to be a part of the best comedy theatre in the world. Buy your Second City Tickets now!
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